Playing Ball At St. Paul’s

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1917 World Series competitors staged exhibition game in Garden City

A picture of the exhibition game played between the Chicago White Sox and New York Giants, the pennant-winning 1917 World Series competitors, looking east from St. Paul’s. (Photo courtesy of the Garden City Historical Society)

When the pennant-winning Chicago White Sox and New York Giants took the field at St. Paul’s in Garden City on Oct. 17, 1917, it was to play an exhibition game before soldiers from Camp Mills. The two teams had recently wrapped up playing the 1917 World Series, with the clinching it the championship in six games. It would be Chicago’s last world championship until 2005 and pre-dated the Black Sox Scandal, which found the White Sox team accused of intentionally losing the 1919 World Series against the Cincinnati Reds in exchange for money from a gambling syndicate led by gangster Arnold Rothstein.

Lefty Williams

With that scandal still two years away, the Sox took the diamond against the John McGraw-led Giants before a crowd of 6,000 enlisted men. The soldiers were members of the Rainbow Division comprised of the 165th United States Infantry (most of whom were New Yorkers) and the 149th Artillery (made up of men from Illinois).

Righthander Al Demaree (who also played for the Philadelphia Phillies, Chicago Cubs and Boston Braves) took the bump for New York> he was largely ineffective as the Sox scored in each of the first three innings. Chicago counterpart, spitball-throwing knuckleballer Joe Benz, fared better, keeping the Giants off the board. New York finally got on the board against reliever Lefty Williams in the fifth inning before Chicago retaliated with three runs in the sixth inning off of righthander George Smith. The Giants attempted to rally by posting a pair of runs against Sox southpaw Dave Danforth before he closed the door and Chicago wound up coming away with a 6-4 victory.

Jim Thorpe

Among the other notable major leaguers in attendance that day were the aforementioned John McGraw, Olympic legend Jim Thorpe and players that eventually became embroiled in the Black Sox Scandal.

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In addition to being editor of Garden City Life and Syosset-Jericho Tribune, Dave Gil de Rubio is a regular contributor to Long Island Weekly, specializing in music and sports features. He has won several awards for writing from Press Club of Long Island (PCLI).

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